Monthly Archives: April 2011

Casually Elite

Nothing says success as doing something over and over and finding ways to improve. I remember a post way back that this guy always ran everything on elite (I think it was in regards to change to casual). I commend that, but I personally (in a post of my own) said that some quest that I do are mostly soloing on normal for the completion (profit). Like Rainbow. Or other quests with the purpose of getting the end reward as suppose to fulfilling the need to challenge myself.

If I had to challenge myself every single quest I probably would have what I have now since it takes longer, more resources and ultimately defeat the primary purpose that is Ka-tching.

Again – nothing against the idea of running everything on elite for the purpose of always proving myself better than normal, but I don’t feel like spending that much time if I need a Greenbriar Twig.

While this might be the best way of checking if my gear and build is truly up to the challenge I trust the many bouts of death and near death running Epic have ironed out most of the kinks. That’s why I have no problem running Rainbow on normal if the end goal is a swift resolution just as I can on Elite if I had the desire.

The reason why I thought about that is because I write this blog about what I do (not worried that someone reads it or anything) when I might skew the idea of how awesome sauce I’m doing things – neglecting to mention that I’m not doing everything on Epic.

Just as when I do prey in Reavers refuge I do it on Casual for the rune. And maybe that does make what I accomplish less when I read about pure DPS doing Amrath quests on Elite (and survive) but I feel that I’m simply conveying methodology and tactics rather than bragging rights for a serious accomplishment.

At this point I wonder what being elite vs elitist really means or matter; Can you be casual and elite at the same time, or a casual player with a elitist attitude? Can you be a avid player and casual about your accomplishments and at the same time happy with how things goes without doing everything at the very max?

 I do run epics (even soloed claw before they made the aura auto agro on Lam and I don’t know if they fixed that – but I admit it was again for Ka-tching – that time to get the seal for the gauntlet of the claws) and other quests on Elite, both in group and solo. I’ve pushed the limit on what I feel is fun including failure in every single possible setting.

I think the most important thing is that you learn from mistakes and adjust and retry. Just because I run certain quests over and over on normal doesn’t mean that I haven’t or couldn’t run them on Elite. While I’m not ‘proud’ of the things I discover I’m glad that I find reasons to play the very same quest over and over again with the hope to find a better way and improve a tactic until it’s more like routine and I can move onto something more fun.

Hand on your heart; if you can accomplish the same but in less time, doing things which ultimate goal is a essence or material for things that take time – sometimes months to construct, would you really do it all on Elite to somehow cement a status that really only matters to one single person anyways?

Personally I measure how good I am by lesser standards; if I can repeat the same accomplishment on the most difficult setting say 3 times I’m fairly sure that as long as the outcome is as smooth as the first 2 I’m doing just fine.

To prove that point over and over doesn’t serve any other purpose then to dogmatically trivialize what’s been already recorded as a win, unless it also guarantees a better outcome. Such as me trying to get the eardweller when Elite doubles the effect over hard.

Anyways – it made me think and right now I’d love to get Rainbow down to 10 minutes.

I guess I could if I skipped a lot of the beginning, but I remember doing that; skipping past the 2 first areas with earth ellies and rusties and the first thing that happened when I tried to fry the beholder was that it survived, nailed all my buffs with anti magic and suddenly all those mad earth ellies managed to earth grab me over and over through the rocks and wall (kind of like the rare beholder in a new invasion managing to anti magic you through the wall) until the beholder had deep fried my FvS.

So maybe not unless I have those boots with FOM on them.

The big One zero zero and no fireworks

I ran my 100 shroud yesterday (on my FvS) and picked up a +3 tome of Constitution as end reward. I’m figuring that’ll come handy when I TR since I think I already used a +3 con tome on my divine. I really wanted to run the shroud on him  since I know that the Archon will shoot at portals and I also wanted to use Divine Punishment to see how well that worked. It was so efficient that I was running ahead of the main DPS group and with caster and the odd high end DPS prepping portals we managed to almost kill them before the DPS group caught up with us.

Sure – it is expensive but that just motivates me to get the Epic ring of spell storing finally done (only need seal and shard) so I can have 4 extra major Sp pots and use them to ‘nuke’ with. All in all I like the combination of Archon, comet fall and Divine Punishment. The biggest problem comes in part 4 and 5. While in theory it’s easy to hit the boss with Divine Punishment and keep stacking it, you kind of have to do it every 10 seconds while healing. The easiest way would be while being really close so you don’t have to change target – so that the heal mass (or whatever) hits the rest of the DPS. Only thing is that this requires some coordination and that I’ll get smacked with a lot of damage while renewing the spell and healing.

My FvS only have 427 HP so it’s not a massive amount. But I’m thinking I need to do it anyways and perhaps put my Fire absorb boots on just to stay in, take the punishment and keep on rocking. I did experiment using the champion and passing the shield so it’s going to be interesting how that works in other quests (it was hard to tell if it did anything since I was busy with what I was doing).

The second thing is that I generally don’t heal using my cure light and cure serious mass with Maximize and empower on. I rely more on my maximized crit chance and the many things I use to boost up the heal effect. On very good days and fairly reliable I crit often enough between both those to be quicker and more effective than the slower heal. True – a heal will most likely completely fill someone’s red bar but it as I mentioned, it’s slow and it’s more SP efficient to keep using the faster mass spells.

The one thing I wish Turbine would add is the possibility; just like with equipping and reequipping weapons and items, the option to set up spells that automatically get the appropriate meta magic. That would be similar to dragging more than one item into the weapon slot so that you could drag different meta magic into a slot and then the same spell to the hot bar.

That way if you wanted you could setup two different version of the same spell; a fully empowered and maximized Divine Punishment and a cure light mass without any meta magic. That would allow for a lot of flexibility. I know that there’s a delay when the meta magic is turned on, but personally I don’t know why. Isn’t it just that you are making it more powerful and enhanced? I don’t understand why there has to be some kind of show about it.

That way I could have a much better control over how I use my SP without micro managing it up front (as suppose to on the backend).

It feels good in any case to be more useful in the shroud (as a divine caster anyways). Hitting the pit fiend with a nice boosted 1k+ light damage on crit makes for a good moment. While it won’t match the torrent of overall DPS it does make sense for me at least to contribute in a way, no matter how small that might be.

Over the Rainbow and into Sins

I decided yesterday to run 2 quests I know are fairly short and with predictable outcomes; Rainbow and Sins. Normally both runs are around 30 minutes but I have improved somewhat lately.

I did it for two reasons; to check out the new FvS Pre and how it works with the gear I use. Partly because I love trying out new cool stuff but also because while I could check out the Pre on Lam I didn’t have my second con op at that time.

Rainbow took about 15 minutes and Sins 25.

There are several reasons for it – the simplistic answer would be the new Pre, but the more accurate answer would be the analysis I made from both runs.

First off – before when I ran Rainbow (almost daily) I only had the Torc. The Torc is nice with a average proc of 30 or so SP. It was enough to get me to the area where the floor fell out, you take the other rout to the first item and the slog back to where the item opens the door. Then I shrined, killed myself to the key and to the puzzle and used pretty much everything I had to kill the Guardian; a fight that takes longer if you have a low smite and try to kill it with BB and searing light.

Later on I got my first con op item; my healing gloves and at the same time the new epic Mithral armor out of Crystal Cove. That gave me the demon shield HP proc and the HP proc from the con op, allowing me the buffer of these additional temporary HP instead of constantly healing myself and using SP for the big heals as suppose to no SP using my free cure lights. Now I could ‘dynamo’ up in the room with the first item against the named Orthon and have enough until I got to the shrine. And then I managed to figure out the tactics to ‘dynamo’ up all the way to the shrine and beyond – using some of the damage from the gnolls to do it so it lasted all the way to the Guardian without shrining. Mostly due to the change from BB and searing light to BB and cometfall.

The limit being the fact that a FvS get very few spell slots and there are some nice upper end ones to pick from.

This is no different from Sins; which for most part is BB, kiting rinse and repeat. The difference is that at the end BBs are not as efficient and neither is cometfall.

So what changed with update 9 are several things; the Pre itself with the lantern Archon, faster casting but shorter lasting BB and Divine Punishment.

Plus let’s not forget that I also added a GS con op scepter with a lot of heal amp. Nothing illustrates these changes like these 2 runs. First off with 2 con op and 1 Torc SP and temporary HP is not a problem as long as there are not too many critters and you run it on a decent level. High end the damage will outstrip the procs and you need to use more spells such as heals instead of free cure light. But with the free cure light, now heal amped; I got tons more HP out of the free cure light than before – making any damage I got go away without the need for heal spells.

The summon hits for 40 and up to a 100 on crit and while there is a damage boost due to the Pre it first has to proc on getting hit and it’s just not all that often and reliable. And with these changes and new spell I changed around my enhancements to add a full smite line.

I could now dynamo up without requiring to shrine and it was fairly fast with 3 possible SP giving items. But the big winner despite the Pre, the summon and my con op and Torc is Divine Punishment.

The spell itself isn’t anything special, until you stack it 3 times. It’s a 16 second ticking spell with a 10 second cool down. Giving you a 6 second window to stack it 3 times max and ‘renew’ the damage. At tier 1 it’s no better than the Archon itself. A paltry 40ish or so in damage. But it doubles and triples with the stacks.

A fully stacked crit can with the Pre damage boost proc hit around 1k and there are very few critters that can withstand light damage. So all I did was to stand on the opposite side of the fountain against the Fire guardian in rainbow and have the Archon snipe at it while keeping up Divine Punishment. I threw down a BB for good measure so the elemental took damage when it shifted trying to hit me.

Done and done. I never had to shrine, I didn’t go for the optional stuff (as per usual) and avoided getting bogged down killing everything. 15 minutes later the guardian was down and I left with my pebbles and got 14 greater chaos essences as end reward in Meridia.

Sins was no different; the torc and con op allowed me to keep SPing up while I kept myself in a corner with my back free healing myself, then BB kite and done.

I picked the most damaging boss (the pit fiend) and simply threw down a BB, stood still and took the punishment while healing and kept the Divine Punishment up and running while hammering with the occasional cometfall.

Done and done.

So while it’s real easy to assume that the Pre did it all, the real winner was the combination of gear I have made and Divine punishment. Not so much because Divine punishment is super duper, because it’s damage pales compared to some of the arcane spells out there, but because it’s one that divine casters really needed that fills a specific niche. Unlike the cometfall, firestorm etc with reflex saves and that are kind of hit and miss. A fully stacked Divine punishment is a good finisher provided you can withstand the punishment getting there. And with higher DR, temporary HP procs and SP procs and free cure lights I can.

Now I want to see how it works for me in the Shroud and other places.

The hill and the massive ball of deconstruct I keep pushing just to see it roll over the top and down on the other side

Yesterday I spent over an hour and (140ish items later) deconstructing for essences and this morning I tried to shave off a few more. I didn’t have all that much time yesterday and I did want to get the Pre setup and run a couple of quests just to see how well I managed to balance my FvS between specific spells and the Pre itself.

My take away is the same as my previous post; something is definitely not right in the land of crafting.

To give you a specific answer one can only look at how much you have to deconstruct and how arbitrary the amounts are. Like a level 3 deconstruct (and if you don’t know through crafting all powers you deconstruct are assigned a level – I guess the idea is that the higher the level of deconstruct the more essences you get) can give you 3 large and a level 5 deconstruct can give you 2.

It’s a little better on the lesser side but weird regardless. A 3 can give you 9 lesser, 4 20 and 5+ 30ish. They’re definitely using dices which is silly in my opinion.

But perhaps what illustrates the problem more is the nature of what you get and the best of what it costs; deconstructing a +6 strength power is considered a level 5 deconstruct and gives you about 30 essences. I got 35.

Making a +4 strength shard (since they have limited it to 50 levels now so it will cost more to craft a +6 shard) cost 15 greater Body and 256 lesser, 16 Khyber fragments and 1 powdered blood.

Khyber fragments are trivial since you will get so many out of a chest. 15 Greater body is roughly about average of 3 out of a level 5 deconstruct so 5 items. 256 means 9 of a minimum level 5 deconstruct.

So we’re talking about 14 items or so to make a +4 strength item. And to make a +6 I assume we’re talking about 2k lesser amount since +3 require 64 and +2 16.

That’s 30 against 2k for the same power. Or 1.5% deconstruct ratio.

For now I will deconstruct only; knowing that if they balance this correctly I will get screwed on the exchange (assuming that they rebalance how much it costs and how much you get from deconstructing). But I won’t craft. I really do not want to waste time and effort making tons of shards knowing that this has to be improved.

The worst part of course is not the current imbalance but the effect it has on the AH and availability of items either at vendors or AH. Where items will have a premium cost to it or there simply won’t be that many since most people will deconstruct them.

That is against the back drop that the crafting system as it stands require a major overhaul.

I’m confident that Turbine is working hard to fix this; I assume that they don’t want to drop a unfinished, highly flawed system on their player base and leave it like that. It’s a pity that they didn’t work harder to at least find a good middle ground before going live since this problem was apparent from the very first day on Lam.

Aside from only having the ability to make BTC items (and assuming that most people like me can’t afford nor have the desire to level on all their toons to make low end gear) I just can’t see myself spending 2-3 hours of my valuable time deconstructing for the frustrating return rate that I can illustrate above.

But for now – my mules are packed with so much garbage that I have to either sell them or deconstruct and I’m committed to deconstructing since I see a value with this system in the future provided Turbine find the right balance.

But not only a balance between what we get and what it cost; also the arbitrary nature on what item can take what power, just 1 prefix and 1 suffix when it should be either or. 2 prefixes. 2 suffixes. It’s magic and I just don’t see why it should be limited like that since I can pull a random item right now with 2 prefixes.

So what if I have a striding 30% featherfalling boots; will that break the game in any way shape and form more than having 30% striding boots with a featherfalling clickie or another item I switch out just to hang glide through the air?

Isn’t the ML of the item what truly limits the usability of it anyways? I’m not asking for striding featherfalling boots of automatic cometfall on landing (although that would be cool) – I’m just asking for flexibility that makes crafting truly awesome; if I am going to spend the next 2 years hitting level 100 with the current inflexible system then we as crafters should be rewarded for our patience with a genuinely flexible system of making what we want within the realm of reason. Limiting it to 2 powers is fine. That’s the nature of most random items anyways  – just make it able to be crafted on any item with the only limitation of where it doesn’t make sense (like holy burst on a armor or bashing on a dagger).

If Turbine does that they will energize the player base to truly craft awesome amount of different cool items that fill pivotal functions in their gear sets and they will turn the sour experience it is now into a must do function within DDO.

Deconstructing update 9 – but still love it

Today is the day; FvS Pre here I come and some new stuff to do.

The other day (on Lam) I was pumping about 6-7k of free TP and drinking 2 major crafting XP pots to level up arcane since I wanted to create a greater evocation item.

When you know what you’re doing it’s not really that hard but when you don’t pay attention you hit one of those expensive shards and waste all your essences.

If I do that live I will cry. No I will. Especially if I’m using real money to buy the essences.

Some of the shards have a fantastic cost of 4k lesser essences. The one I crafted had a cost of 2k.

It’s unfathomable that they could let costs like that slip through the cracks. The response have been that this is just a Beta and our feedback is important and of course the system is going to need balancing. But what I wonder is who seriously thought that you could level up anything using regular vendor trash pull with fantastic costs like that?

Think about it; at the most you will ever get 30-40ish lesser on a good day for deconstructing a power. On one item. In one regular loot run you get maybe 2-3 items – more if you do shroud. You might even get 4-5 if you run a wilderness run for vendor trash. In the early levels shards cost 4 lesser (mind you this is only lesser cost, you also have the cost of large, which have the same kind of fantastic costs associated as you progress). Then 16. You can still create 1 or 2 shards on a good deconstructed item. Then it’s 64. Now we’re talking about 2-3ish. Suddenly it becomes 256 for shards that if you deconstruct the same shard you might get 30ish out of it but more often less (since deconstructing a power has nothing to do with what the actual cost of crafting it is).

Then it’s 1024, 2048 and 4k.

Excuse me; but unless I actually buy essences from the TP store no ordinary loot runs will <i>ever</i> be able to pay for that kind of ridiculous costs. My proposal have always been tie the cost of the shard to the deconstruction of the power; meaning if a shard cost (say holy burst) cost 256 lesser and whatever larger, when deconstructing it you get half of those materials (both – larger and smaller).

So if indeed a shard cost 1k to make then you get half of that for deconstructing that shard. Even a third would be okay – that’s 3 similar items for the cost of making 1. But when the ration is deconstruct 1 for 30 and the cost is 2k (like I wasted constructing the shard for leveling) the return ratio for deconstructing is 1.5%. That’s right. If I deconstruct that shard I get about 1.5% back in lesser material.

The problem stems from a set amount of essences for deconstructing and a ridiculous scale of cost based on fairy dust and unicorn dreams. I personally have no idea who put the cost of some stuff at 1k let alone 4k and had the assumption that anyone could actually level in that school let alone create a shard for that power using regular materials.

A 4k shard (and remember you either get lesser or greater material for deconstructing, not both) will require more than 130 items to deconstruct where the item has to provide at least 30 lesser every single time.

That’s 43 quest runs averaging 3 items each time with a deconstruct quality of 5 levels. And – they all have to be deconstructed for the same type of lesser essence. Such as divine. And are you really going to find 130 items of a certain deconstruct quality that only provide divine essences?

I don’t even run that many quests in one week of quality runs.

But let’s assume that we’re instead just crafting 256 lesser essence shards (that will eventually run into the 1024 essence wall for upper end crafting). That’s 9 items or so of the same deconstruct quality and power and whatever more for the larger. For one of those you have to run about 3-4 quests (or maybe 1 or 2 wilderness runs). And one shard at say about 30-40 XP a pop won’t get you anything. Since the higher up you go, the more XP you need to level up.

That’s the fundamental flaw with the crafting system; not just that you can have 1 prefix and suffix; that there’s a artificial barrier in where you can put the power and that it most likely going to bounce with another prefix or suffix for the most interesting combos, but that it requires so much material that the only reasonable way to level is to buy essences from the store to get anywhere and if the cost remains the same as on Lam it’ll be expensive (think 12k or more for a decent crafting level) but if the prices are higher it’s going to be more than that.

In real terms – over 100 real dollars to craft – and in ingame terms a mind boggling amount of loot runs to get anywhere in crafting.

Solution: Tie it to deconstructing – cost of shard equals portion of cost to deconstruct in both large and smaller essences. More essences as end rewards. Several quests offer essences as end rewards instead of stuff, but it’s in such paltry amounts that you can actually get similar amounts from picking one of the items and deconstructing them instead (only if they’re larger essences might it be worth taking).

So keep this in mind when you start crafting in u9. If you have horded tons of stuff across several mules for this update – be prepared to be amazed how much it takes in order to get anywhere and that you feel like you’re recycling a year worth of beer cans for the money return of buying a six pack.

Shroud runs done silly but quickly and right

Yesterday I ran a shroud run with AoK. The LFM clearly said griefing is a guarantee and there will be no DDoor option. I was running my Horc fighter anyways so I didn’t expect much; I had some FOM cookies and I have all the rings I need to survive. In other words; the fast pace wouldn’t hurt none.

If you haven’t run with AoK in shroud before it’s generally quick, very few stops beat them down no nonsense runs. If you do the same runs with other guilds such as Big Damn Heroes (now renamed) etc you won’t get the griefing but the runs are equally swift. And that suited me just fine – after suffering through a couple of slow painful runs I was ready for a much quicker one.

And quick it was. Less than 30 minutes later we were done and someone left a ddoor ontop of the large mat chest in part 5.

Again – when you run with AoK you can kind of expect that stuff. So I made sure I clicked the right symbol (2 gears for the chest, not the door symbol for the ddoor) and it was a good thing since I got a large stone. I don’t complain, others might’ve (like the fact that they hit the altar right away). I’ve run with them before and it’s just the way the roll. I would never have joined (I read the LFM) if I didn’t expect what they wrote would happen and I wanted a quick finish. I always complete anyways. I’m there to run for mats and I can run once every day now and eventually more than once a day. Shards are plentiful and it’s just a matter before you pull what you need. And now with altars on the boats you can most easily craft when you have what you need without worrying about finishing before part 5.

Don’t get me wrong; I rather just get a run done with a good guild than suffering silly griefing from AoK members (when they do it – and it doesn’t happen all the time). But if you want something done right and quickly (minus the silly stuff) you can trust that guild as much as you can trust other great guilds.

I have a Droaam

I like Droaam. Perfect if you’re looking for good named gear and other stuff and you can pull some really okay BTA rings at the end of U8 series. Run it on normal and you pull plenty gear and get a good circa 1 hour to do the final 4 in a row end reward.

I wish they had a similar function for the first 4 F2P quests but they don’t so it’s harder to pull the good named from that end chest. I keep trying but I keep pulling vendor trash instead of the different named gear, namely stone dust or that pick.

My hope is to finally pull a couple of named so my next 2wf can upgrade those Khopeshes. At 12 they’re good and at 13 they’re pretty darn good (add stone prison to at least one of them and you’re having fun).

Personally I’ve been running it for the rings. Awesome beginner stuff – like my +4 Str (ML 1) and my Con +3 with something else. Those are viable for A LOT of levels and makes the whole gearing real easy. If there’s one pack I can wholeheartedly recommend it’s that pack together with Red Fen. Relative quick quests to run with interesting story lines and the way the quests are setup.